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As a mountain bike rider, one of the things that you must ensure is in check is the bike’s groupset.
The groupset here entails the gearing and braking components that are parts of the mechanical moving parts of the bike.
They include the crankset, chain, bottom brackets, shifters, derailleur, brakes, levers, and cassettes.
Rival and Apex are some of the two top series from SRAM, and we shall be exploring their derailleur, shifters, and cranksets.
Here is an SRAM Rival vs. Apex review to help you find the ideal groupset for your bike.
Both models/series come with different products, which makes it challenging to find the right unit.
That is why we came up with this article to give you an easy time when shopping.
When it comes to mid-range groupsets, SRAM rival tends to take the lead on the market. They offer you affordable groupsets that perform decently as well.
SRAM shifters are designed with the ZeroLoss cable spool design. Along with that, they have a left-hand cable spool design that offers a 10-degree enhancement for offering fast and easy shifts.
Both the front and rear SRAM Rival derailleurs offer you precise and positive shifting.
There is a stiff steel derailleur cage that ensures the front shifting is better with the Rival groupset.
Rival cranksets come with a major update that offers you hollow-forged Open Core Technology to save you some weight.
Still, it offers you a more rigid unit that is relative to the previous solid-forged unit.
Recommended SRAM Rival to Buy
There are several Rival crankset models out there. However, here are three units we think would be a good pick for you.
SRAM Rival 42T Crankset
Coming with forged aluminum arms and a removable spider, this crankset will offer you an amazing shifting experience.
It is designed to guide the chain via the pedal stroke as it delivers dependable pedal stroke and chain retention.
The forged aluminum arms are not only durable, but they also come with a lightweight design. In turn, this will help to boost your shifting experience.
Plus, the setup of the crankset makes it ideal for those riding in less-aggressive topographies.
If you also prefer working with a rear derailleur only and save some weight, this crankset would serve you perfectly.
There is a tall and square X-SYNC tooth design that is meant to give you amazing chain control.
The tooth profile is sharp and narrow with rounded chamfer edges that deliver a deflected chain.
You also get recesses that will clear mud off the inner chain rollers and links.
We loved the Exogram technology that is meant to deliver a large and hollow cross-section that goes all the way to the spider.
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SRAM Rival 1 Crankset
For those that are used to working with hidden chainring bolts behind the crank arm, you’d love working with this model.
The crankset also comes with a lightweight yet sturdy design to serve you for a long time.
This one is made with forged aluminum arms, as well as a machined alloy spider that is detachable.
With the hidden bolt design of this crankset, you won’t have to worry about the unit becoming loose as you ride your bike.
Along with that, the crankset comes with CNC machined X-Glide chainrings that offer the needed protection.
This assures you of the needed support to both the inner and outer chain links. In turn, you can be sure of enjoying enhanced shifting.
In terms of weight, this fella comes in at 875grams. The BB30 technology of this one offers you a narrow Q-factor and more ankle clearance.
You will also enjoy a sturdier crank construction and longer bearing life.
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SRAM Rival Doubletap Shifters
This Rival shifter comes with advanced engineering and technology to enhance the overall shifting experience.
The shifters come in at only 245 grams, and it features a carbon brake lever that makes it an amazing model to choose for your bike.
Along with that, this model is meant to deliver ergonomic comfort and excellent shifting quality.
Another addition to the shifters is the SRAM’s ZeroLoss shifting, which betters the performance as well.
It has also been designed with the ability to trim the derailleur with minimal effort.
Keep in mind that the brake lever of this shifter is longer than the previous version. The shift paddle is also extended and widened for better delivery.
There is an added cable routing option that allows you to run both the shifter and brake cables along the front of the handlebar.
Furthermore, the reach adjustment feature is meant to let you customize the lever to meet the size of your hands.
In other words, it is suitable for people with large or small hands without any problem. You will be getting a full shift and brake cable kit with this model.
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SRAM Rival 22 11-Speed Shifter
Thanks to the iconic ZeroLoss technology from SRAM, this model offers instant reactions from the cables and shifters.
In other words, you will not experience any lag time between changing gears or pulling the lever.
Even better, this model will automatically adjust the trim to give you smooth and quiet drivetrains.
In the long run, you will be sure of the perfect shifting experience. The DoubleTap shifting feature gives you short and fast shifts.
Like the previous product, this one also offers you a reach-adjust design that lets you move the lever closer or further from the bar as possible.
By the way, this one comes in at 350 grams, and it is still classified under the lightweight category.
There are aluminum levers that are lightweight but still sturdy enough. The shifters are designed with two cable routing options.
Here, you can run the cables inside or outside the bars for efficiency and a nice appeal.
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SRAM Rival 3.0 Rear Derailleur
If you are on a tight budget and you need a decent derailleur for your bike, this model would work for you.
The derailleur features durable aluminum construction that makes it lightweight too.
You can use this model with a medium or long cable. This one comes with advanced technology to make it durable and functional enough. It would suit you if you need a cyclocross, gravel, or road bike.
Another plus feature is the trickle-down technology that makes it a unit worth going for, especially with its reduced price.
We loved the refined 3.0 Roller Bearing Clutch, which helps to better the stabilization of the chain and shifting over the bumpiest terrain.
Besides that, the derailleur comes with a reduced chain slap. In turn, this will offer you a quiet and smooth ride. The chainstay is not chipped up, and it doesn’t look haggard.
There is an X-Horizon geometry that limits the movement on the horizontal axis, which then betters the stability.
Thanks to the upper pulley that maintains a constant gap and tension across each cog on the cassette, this derailleur will get rid of ghost shifting and reduce shift initiation.
SRAM Rival 22 11-Speed Rear Derailleur
This front derailleur is designed to offer you an amazing shifting experience. The derailleur comes with a friendly and decently lightweight design.
It comes with a design that delivers a complete approach to the critical balance of light action upshifts and positive downshifts.
Also, the model comes with a proprietary SRAM action ratio, innate adjusters, as well as professionally engineered cage design. The combination of these features assures you of swift shifting.
You get an X-Glide shifting technology that delivers flawless shifting. In other words, you will not compromise the speed and power in almost any off-road terrain — no more missed shifts with this derailleur.
This derailleur comes with steel construction that will withstand any high demanding use. In other words, the performance of this model is optimized for efficiency.
It offers you both a high-direct and low-direct mount, as well as a high clamp and low clamp.
Apex is another top series that offer groupsets suitable for your bike. Here is a look at the groupsets offered by SRAM Apex.
The Apex crankset comes with a compact design and cold-forged aluminum arms that are solid and soft enough. They come with a Q-Factor and are available in different lengths.
The Apex Shifters feature DoubleTap technology, and they are loaded with reach adjustments for shift levers and brakes.
There are also ZeroLoss front shifting, along with dual cable routing options. As it is well known, Red is the only brand known for making ZeroLoss rear shifters.
Apex front and rear Deraulliers come with tight pivots that are meant to deliver snappy shifts.
They also feature the X-Horizon geometry that assures you of clean and crisp shifts while remaining strong enough.
Recommended SRAM Apex to Buy
SRAM Apex GXP BCD Double Road Crankset
This crankset is designed for maximum stiffness and reduced weight. It is meant to utilize the cold forging process as it comes in at 890 grams.
Compared to other models, it is slightly heavier, but it is generally a lightweight model.
Thanks to the aluminum construction, this unit offers you a high strength-to-weight ratio to serve you for a long time.
There are PowerGlide chainrings that deliver crisp and consistent shifting.
You will have an easy time when it comes to installing and maintaining the sealed bearing BB and GXP spindle.
Thanks to the teeth design of this model, the alloy is strain-hardened for amazing durability.
In turn, the stainless steel pickup pins are meant to enhance the longevity and performance of the crankset.
We loved the chainring-specific finishing tech and laser graphics that don’t only contribute to the durability of the crankset but also enhance the appeal.
SRAM Apex 1 Gx Crankset
This crankset comes with revolutionary innovation and top-notch performance. You can be sure of enjoying the ultimate riding experience with this model.
The X-SYNC technology allows the crankset to run securely and with low-noise.
Keep in mind that this technology also offers unparalleled chain retention to the crankset.
If you need a wide range of gears and shifting simplicity while saving you some money, this crankset would work for you.
It is compatible with both 10-speed and 11-speed gears, and you can also use it with 24mm and 30mm spindles.
You get a crankset with aluminum chainrings and crankarms for excellent delivery. Also, this helps to make the whole unit lightweight and durable enough.
There is an integrated 4-arm asymmetric spider that will maximize the stiffness to weight.
Above all, this crankset offers a greater frame and tire clearance compared to most models out there.
SRAM Apex DoubleTap Shifters
With this model, you can be confident of having shifters that come with advanced technology. It has been designed to perfect the interface between the bike and rider.
There is a forged aluminum brake lever, along with a cast aluminum shift lever that will not only be durable but also lightweight to the maximum.
Just like the Rival, these shifters also come with dual reach adjustment to let you set the lever to the level of your choice.
Whether you have large or small hands, the shifters come with a design to suit you perfectly.
There is a dual cable routing that lets you install/run the cable inside or outside the bars for convenience.
The high pivot brake lever is another plus feature you would enjoy working with.
Keep in mind that these shifters offer you a right-hand lever only. You will enjoy the iconic ZeroLoss technology for front shifting, along with a single-motion lever for the entire shifting.
SRAM Apex Hydro Shifters
Your braking and gearing are assured with these shifters, and it is because of its excellent construction. This shifter is designed to give you confidence on each ride on your bike.
It is an 11-speed shift lever that is developed to offer accurate shifting that is dependable enough regardless of the riding condition.
Thanks to the lever body design of this unit, you can be sure of enjoying incredible finger wrap, along with comfort and control.
In terms of the brake fluid, this unit uses the DOT 5.1 brake fluid. The unit weighs in at only 350 grams, which is lightweight but very sturdy as well.
This one comes with a two-piston hydraulic caliper along with a forged aluminum disc caliper with steel hardware and steel-backed organic pads. In general, this offers you an excellent shifting experience.
SRAM Apex Rear Derailleur
With this derailleur, you get a wide-ratio cassette option and a 2 x 10-speed road shifting system. The unit has been designed to be wider, faster, and generally lighter.
This one is made of aluminum that makes it lightweight and also durable enough.
Luckily, you can use this derailleur with SRAM Apex, Force, Rival Double Tap, and Red controls.
You won’t have to ride with complexity and weight when you have this derailleur.
Being a 10-rear gear speed derailleur, this one also comes with a short cage length.
Mountain bike riding requires enough gears for exploring the terrains and making the whole adventure interesting enough.
SRAM understands that, which is why they offer you enough gear range to let you conquer both city limit sprints and mountain passes with ease.
If you want to get the most of this derailleur, you will want to use it with the SRAM Exact Actuation DoubleTap Shifters.
SRAM Apex Long Cage Rear Derailleur
Coming with a long cage design that fits up to a 42-tooth cog, this unit stands among the best out there.
The derailleur features a lightweight yet sturdy design for reliability and efficiency.
This one offers you an X-horizontal design that helps cut down the shift force while getting rid of ghost shifting and chain slap.
It can be used with both 10-speed and 11-speed SRAM 1x road systems without any problem.
We loved the cage lock technology that helps to ease the wheel removal and installation.
Furthermore, there is a large upper pulley offset that will adjust the gap of the chain automatically.
You can go wherever you want when you have this derailleur on your bike. It is meant to offer you a clean and crisp shifting for an excellent biking experience.
There are a roller bearing clutch and a parallelogram design that combine easily to reduce chain bounce.
As a result, this makes the drive train safer and less-noisy over rough terrains.
Sram Rival vs. Apex Comparison
So, how do these models compare? Which is the best and would serve you to the maximum?
That depends on what you want in a groupset. Nevertheless, here is a look at how the two models compare.
In terms of braking delivery, Apex offers you a one-brake system that tends to be effective enough.
On the other hand, Rival offers two-brake systems. Both systems can be adapted for hydraulic brakes.
However, Rival units tend to be more compatible than Apex.
Typically, both models come with similar shifters, but Rival is lightly uncomfortable than Apex. Even so, Rival happens to be more precise in its delivery.
On the other hand, Apex happens to be fairly basic and they allow you to choose between two different chain sizes.
Rival groupset also offers more superior shifting that is faster and sharper than Apex.
Being that Rival offers more control and a better shifting experience, it makes them more expensive compared to Apex.
Still, both models come at a decent and affordable price point.
Apex groupset is the perfect option for anyone in need of reliable performance with an amazing value.
With the Rival groupset, it would suit you if you need a mid-range set that offers satisfying performance as well. Rival would be a good pick for long rides.
Which groupset would you go for based on this SRAM Rival vs. Apex review?
Would you rather go for Apex to save some money and enjoy a value pack or you don’t mind spending some extra dollars to get an impressive groupset?
Whichever model you choose, ensure that it meets your riding conditions accordingly.